Steps to Follow After a Severe Loss // on Tuesday June 9, 2015
It was May 20, 2013 at 2:45 p.m. in New Castle, Oklahoma. The day seemed like any other rainy, spring day. Children were on their way home from school, either getting on the bus or being picked up by Mom and Dad eager to get home, throw down their backpacks and play with their friends. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had a different plan. What happened over the next 45 minutes changed their lives forever.
Just minutes before 3 p.m., an EF5 tornado devastated portions of Newcastle and Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado measured at 1.3 miles wide and traveled over 17 miles causing over $2 billion dollars in damage.
On the day following the devastating tornado, a GuideOne customer was surveying damages at his home when a car stopped and a gentleman exited holding a few bottles of water, coffee and breakfast. That person, wearing a GuideOne Claims Team shirt, was shortly followed by a trusted mitigation vendor. The offer of help, guidance, and a friendly smile was a welcome relief that helped ease the customer’s anxieties and worry.
If you’ve ever been a victim of a natural disaster, like this Oklahoma community, you probably know what you do immediately following the disaster is critical to recovery. Whether it’s a flood, fire, hurricane, tornado, earthquake or winter storm it’s important to know what to do, and who to call, in case disaster strikes. It’s also important to have an insurance provider you trust. Consider the steps below should you ever be affected by a severe loss.
The First 24 Hours
Once you’ve confirmed that you and those you live with are out of harm’s way, consider the following:
- If you have any damage to your property, contact your insurance agent and discuss what steps you should take to file a claim.
- If anyone is injured, weak or has unusual symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
- If your home has been damaged, turn off your gas and electricity, if you can safely do so.
- If your power and gas lines have sustained any damage, report these right away, and let utility workers determine when it’s safe to turn them back on.
- Stay off the roads as this will make it easier for emergency workers to get to damage quickly.
- If there is a fire hydrant by your home, and you can do so safely, clear away the debris around it so that the fire department may easily access it.
- Stay tuned to the radio or TV for news about what to do, where to go and what to avoid. The news also may have numbers for local disaster relief services that can assist you with food, shelter, medicine and clothing.
Preparing for Recovery
- Do what you can to replace important documents that may have been lost or destroyed. These documents include your driver’s license, auto registration, bank books, insurance policies, health insurance cards, credit cards, titles to deeds, stocks and bonds and wills.
- If you can, try to reconstruct your financial records. Contact your bank and credit card companies to provide you with back statements. The IRS can provide you with your tax returns from previous years.
- Save your receipts. This will help when you’re filing your insurance claims and your income tax return.
- Make a list of all property that was damaged or destroyed. Conducting a home inventory prior to a disastrous event will greatly lessen the stress this can cause.
- Inform your creditors and utilities companies so that they can stop billing your home or work with you to help you get through the situation.
This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.